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Thread: 7 Sins IC

  1. - Top - End - #91
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: A modest proposal
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    Akari nods. "We've got something in store for the Vatican. The commander has a couple ideas that he won't share with me just yet. I'm pretty sure carpet bombing the Holy See is off the table, though. And after seeing you kids put down that scary thing? Yeah, we can do this. Hell, I think you all just stopped a second Rapture event. Kuz-... uh, Irina was sweating bullets when that thing showed up."

    "Why? It didn't seem as powerful as what was at the Rapture. Are they all capable of doing that?"

    "Well, we didn't have giant robots back then. No idea what the other Elders can do - our infantry was too busy running at the time, so your squad is the first one to actually fight it. But that thing just about took Irina's legs. You don't come away from that being okay, ya know? The other Babylon locations fought more traditional angels. I don't mean the cherubs you see all over the place - I'm talking about flaming abominations with too many eyes. Shame about our US allies."

    Takeo nods. "Yes, but at least we're still able to cover our weaknesses with help from other areas. Although...I wonder if the enemy will keep attacking us all simultaneously like that, so we have to keep our forces spread. It'd be a good plan, and they must have someone or something planning this, right?"

    "Yeah, I guess that's a fair point. Russia attempted an air strike on the lamb before. It didn't go well. We're thinking that's the central point, but it could just be a red herring."

    "If an air strike didn't work, what about Virtues? We've seen that we can kill Angels with them, and we have techniques to deal with their AT fields, couldn't pilots do a better job of it?"

    "Yeah. Yeah, it might work. We've got... twenty three elders left. It would be a hell of a fight. Committing all our resources there at once would leave the rest of the world vulnerable, and I'm not sure any one Babylon team - or even two or three - could pull it off."

    Takeo nods. "Of course, the other Elders. I suppose it would be best to wear them down first. Do you think more will come to fight us, like the one we fought?"

    "As well as that fight went for us, I'm worried about it. What makes Japan special? Are they mad at the commander for getting people out of there alive? Because damn are they gonna be even more pissed now if that's the case. And if we do get another elder, will it be the same? Stronger? More at once? But hey, looks like you made it out okay. Maybe I'm worried for nothing."

    "Could it have something to do with the Vatican attack? I'm alright, but I do understand your worry. We still don't know enough about them to relax."

    "That's... a worrying connection. To date, we've thought the Vatican simply assumed themselves to be acting on God's behalf. If they're actually allied with the angels, we could be in a lot more trouble."

    "It's just the timing of the Elder attack, soon after the Vatican tried to target pilots - tried to cripple our ability to fight the Elder - that concerns me. If the Angels are actually angels, then there is biblical precedent for them speaking to chosen humans. Could that be happening now? From what we've seen of the Vatican, it wouldn't surprise me, but of course there's no evidence yet."

    "Oh boy. Well, if you're right, putting a high velocity round through the Pope's head might turn the tide of the war. Of course, I don't think we can do that without losing global funding. Not yet, anyway. The media needs to be on our side, and that sure ain't my job. Logistics isn't easy, but what is easy is telling you those giant robots aren't cheap to run, maintain, and repair. I'll run it up to the commander. He might chew me out for even suggesting it, but at least I'll have put the idea out there."

    Takeo nods. "I suppose for now, that's all we can do. I trust the Commander will make the right decision, whatever that is."

    "Worth a shot, even if he won't let me line one up! Wanna grab late dinner, or you gonna go hang out with your squad?"

    Takeo mulls this over for a minute. "Dinner sounds good."

    "And away we go!"
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  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Ryall felt somewhat... underwhelmed. Sure, the Angel being defeated at no loss of life is objectively speaking great and she knows that, but she imagined actual combat with Angels, let alone an Elder, to be more exhilarating than that. Her contributions during the combat amounting to standing around and tanking hits also didn't help much.

    Her internal grumbling is interrupted, however, by Jacob's father. Ryall felt a cold shiver run up her spine at the man's words, but remained stonefaced regardless. <"Sir, I would like to point out that my so-called "antics" resulted in your son being gone from the party, which kept him safe from the Vatican's assassins. If anything, you should be thanking me.">
    Last edited by roko10; 2019-08-18 at 09:20 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Spoiler: Ryall
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    There's a flicker across the man's eye. Dead silence. It couldn't have lasted more than a couple of seconds, but in those seconds, you are most certainly not having fun. They creep by, and finally give way when the man in front of you does something you couldn't have possibly prepared yourself for.

    Robert Cole chuckles.

    "<You are an inspiring woman, Ms. Lagrange. Only results matter, correct? Methods are irrelevant, and sometimes the shortest path between two points is through the mud. I'm going to have a special requisition form sent to your quarters. Do make use of it. Enjoy the rest of your evening.>"

    That was the slimiest compliment you've ever received. This might be worse than just having him mad at you.
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  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Aoba's celebrations are blunted by the news. She was a soldier, obviously, she'd trained for this... but it was her first kill, and it was an accident. She was trying to let him survive. She just wanted him disabled for interrogation, but instead, with her own hands... She needs to get her mind off it. Her mind drifts towards her bottle of celebratory scotch, for two reasons... but she was left with a higher priority. She would have to save it for the big celebration, like she meant to.

    "Understood, Commander." Six simultaneous assaults by the Lamb, but an emphasis on Japan. If it was Russia itself, it would be a matter of proximity... there's not enough information to go on yet. She needs to know more. She sends a text to an assistant: <I know this is time for celebration, but I need to know if there were any events preceding the assaults on the other Babylon installations similar to the Vatican incident. Anything irregular.>

    With that done... she should tend to her other responsibilities. Carmen... Carmen is a difficult girl, but she's still clearly doing badly. Aoba walks over to her, taking an adjacent seat. "How are you feeling, Carmen? Any better?"
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  5. - Top - End - #95
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    Spoiler: Aoba
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    Carmen stares at you blankly for a moment, then thumbs out a message on her phone. You receive a text a moment later.

    "I can't hear. They say it might take two months to heal."

    When you repeat your question by text, she replies.

    "I'm not in pain anymore. Sorry I couldn't fight."

    An apology from Carmen is unusual at best, worrisome at worst. There's a reason the other pilots don't like her very much. Still, it's hard to think poorly of her right now.

    Your assistant responds quickly, and you immediately remember - she doesn't seem to understand the text message medium. Her response is broken into multiple messages due to the character limit.

    "<No Vatican attacks on other Babylon bases. We were also the only ones holding a gala today, but the dates were deliberately staggered to give representatives time to attend multiple galas. The DDP representative in particular made it very clear that she intended to attend all of them. It's unclear why we went first, but Australia is to go next, in three days, unless something changes as a result of the attacks.>"
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  6. - Top - End - #96
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    Aoba sits next to Carmen, then texts a reply. <I'm so sorry. We'll get you a speech to text interpreter ASAP, unless you want Shane to fulfill that responsibility. And don't feel any guilt for not fighting- the four of them pulled it off successfully, and I know you'll be ready next time. That was a dangerous situation, and you aren't trained for that sort of thing, so you have no room to feel guilt. If you need anything at all, please let me know.>

    She then turns her attention back to her assistant. <Acknowledged. I assume the other branches don't need to be told to heighten security at their events.> She ponders what she was told. Could the Vatican have known that an Elder would attack Japan? Did they manipulate events? It can't be a pure coincidence, they targeted the pilots an hour before the Angels began to move, and the strongest one was aimed for here... we were down three pilots before we even started the fight, it was lucky that the four remaining could handle it. We need more information... and I killed an infiltrator before he could talk. God dammit. Hopefully the other captured soldiers had some intel... she texts again. <Was the deceased infiltrator on staff, or was his infiltration purely for the gala? Do we need to sweep for moles?>
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  7. - Top - End - #97
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    Spoiler: Aoba
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    Carmen thumbs out a message, then hands Shane the phone. He hesitates before reading out loud, "Shane can do it. I can talk, but he says I yell when I try so I stopped."

    Shane looks a bit like he's just been scolded. She takes her phone away from him to give you another message.

    "I can't imagine any of this will make things less cumbersome."

    Ah, there it is. At least she's feeling well enough to be complain a bit.

    Then comes the reply from your assistant.

    "<We think it was a new infiltrator. He took an existing S2 agent's ID and modified it to have his picture, then assumed the man's identity. We haven't found the real agent, but we're assuming we're looking for a body. We're looking into the infiltrator's death. Medical assured us he'd live. Then he didn't.>"
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  8. - Top - End - #98
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    "I suppose software would be easier, yes. You could probably find a speech synthesizer somewhat close to her normal voice and install that on her phone." She goes back to tapping at her phone. <Check everyone in medical against older records. Make sure all IDs are valid in all known recordings. Make sure we don't have a second infiltrator who may have silenced the first.>
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  9. - Top - End - #99
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    Spoiler: Aoba
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    Shane gets to work on finding an appropriate voice synthesizer. She initially looks over his shoulder, but eventually falls asleep on him.

    "Ah. Forgive her, director. She isn't bored by you, I'm sure - she's just had a hard day. I can wake her back up if necessary."

    Your assistant gets back to you in the meantime.

    "<On it. I'll let you know when we find something, or decide that we won't.>"
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  10. - Top - End - #100
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    Liza drifts through a post-battle haze for a while. Her mind remains transfixed by that moment before she pulled the trigger, long after she's left her Virtue behind.

    Calm. Focus.

    Power.

    Not the anxious thrill she gets from stealing. That's the narrow success of a child sneaking around a giant, praying not to get crushed.

    For the first time in memory, she was completely in control - of herself, of her target, and of an indomitable power greater even than the adults who think they own her.

    The feeling is addictive.

    . . .

    When her consciousness starts to come back, she finds herself leaning in the doorframe to her sleeping room. Just as expected, it's a mess; S2 wasn't shy about reclaiming their twice-stolen pistol. She's more surprised by how little it upsets her right now, considering her panic attack before the battle. This happened because she set herself up for it; there's no deeper meaning, and no sense blaming S2 for acting according to their nature. By confirming their predictability, she'll be able to use it later. Not quite worth the trade, but it can't be helped now.

    "A non-trivial salary, huh...?"

    She changes into casual clothes - all stolen from thrift stores she volunteered at back home - and retrieves her wallet from her bed's hollow leg (the one in the corner, so nobody would accidentally bump into it and learn the trick).

    Still riding the post-battle calm, she throws on her 'cheerful, innocent girl' persona, then strolls over to Xiren's room to invite her to go shopping for dinner ingredients. Liza wants to make something for all the pilots to share in celebration of their first victory. Between the pair's thriftiness and charm, they're bound to get the best discounts together!

  11. - Top - End - #101
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Xiren, rather unsurprisingly, has her nose buried in a Bible when Liza turns up. She's about halfway through a stack of adhesive page markers and has been pretty rapidly flipping back and forth, singling out specific passages to mark. Curiously enough, there's another more worn, but otherwise unmarked, Bible on her nightstand. She greets Liza with a bright smile - her earlier troubles seem to have passed entirely. "Oh, hello, Liza! That was a heck of a shot you made earlier. Sorry I didn't get a chance to tell you sooner."

  12. - Top - End - #102
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    "Yes, it was good, wasn't it? But you were cool! Super-duper cool! Are you doing research now? Talk to Ms. Kuznestov! Ah, do you want to go dinner shopping with me? I want to make hot pot for all the pilots!"

    Her Japanese is simplistic and stilted, much too formal for the situation, but her friendly intentions show through in her smile and energy. She's loud enough that anyone in the hallway can probably hear her.

  13. - Top - End - #103
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    Ryall could feel her skin crawl when she hears Jacob's father compliment her, but nonetheless, she tries to keep up a facade of composure. <"Thank you. Now, if you would excuse me, I have places to be,"> she said before she leaves, walking noticeably faster after he is out of sight.

    Passing through the hallways to her own room, she hears Liza talking nearby Xiren's room, something about dinner shopping and hotpots. She walks close to them and asks "Hey. Need any help?"

  14. - Top - End - #104
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    Xiren closes her Bible and places her palm on the cover. "It's not that kind of research. Commander Nakamura told me we'll be starting a PR campaign soon against the Vatican. I was looking for what the Scripture tells us about what they're doing and why it's wrong. She seems nice enough, but the Lieutenant Commander doesn't seem like the religious type." She pauses. "What about you? Do you... believe?" Before Liza has time to answer, Xiren shakes her head. "No, I'm sorry, that's inappropriate. I'd love to go shopping with you. Just let me gather up my things and-" At this point Xiren notices Ryall's arrival on the scene, and she seems extremely eager at the prospect of an obvious 'out' to her entirely-self-inflicted zone of awkwardness. "Oh! Hello Ryall! Good work out there today. We were just about to go shopping. Want to come?"

  15. - Top - End - #105
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    Spoiler: Hotpot adventure
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    Liza's eyes kind of glaze over as she struggles to parse everything Xiren's saying, but she's able to catch the gist and Ryall's appearance spares her from having to respond to things she half-understood.

    "Ryall, come with us! Do you want to cook hot pot or soba or curry? What... food do you like? Xiren too?"

    She's ready to go out as soon as the others are. Though...?

    "Shopping... What is the method to go?"

    "It's been a while since I've had hot pot - we used to make it for special occasions back home. We should probably have S2 get us a car and driver though. The nearest train station is a bit of a walk." Xiren's face sours momentarily. "I don't recommend it. They get a little touchy about same-day requests, but we did just save the world, right? They can spare it."

    "The commander literally told us to "have some fun. " S2's hands are basically tied here, they'll have to let us hitch a ride."

    When you all approach the nearest S2 agent, he's not exactly on board with your idea.

    "There have been two attacks already tonight. I can't-" he puts one hand to his earpiece, "You're joking. No, I'll do it. Saito out." With a sigh, he drops his hand and looks back at you, a bit dejected. "Right, hotpot. Uh... follow me."

    You're each assigned one agent, not including your driver. They stay out of your way unless addressed. The first place they take you is a butcher. You get looks, but mostly because of the security.

    In any other circumstance, Xiren would probably ignore the S2 agent's condescension, but she's had a rather rough day. "Think of it like this," she calmly reassures Saito. "People need to see us acting normally, now more than ever. The more we look affected by what's happened, the more people worry about us. We need people wondering what kind of monsters would attack children over religious fanaticism, not what kind of monsters would allow religious fanatics to attack children. Plus, it's a nice photo op for my social media accounts."

    Once they arrive at the butcher, she greets the person behind the counter warmly, as though they aren't flanked by several armed, suspicious-looking men, and asks what meat they'd recommend for a hot pot - it's common in Japan too, right? Surely they'd have a suggestion. A thought occurs to her. "Ryall, do you even have any idea what we're talking about? I doubt they do hot pot in America."

    Ryall shrugs. "I have no idea. But I don't care, food is food."

    "Public relations isn't my job." Saito replies, "Keeping you safe is. But orders are orders, and even if it's not an ideal scenario... well, I'm not trying to rain on your parade. You did good out there."

    The butcher eyes the suits for a moment. And the guns. Open carry in Japan isn't exactly common. When he turns to Xiren, he gestures toward some thinly cut strips of beef and pork under the glass.

    "You want it to cook fast if you're doing hotpot. These here with the more even marbling are more expensive, but they're a better texture. That fat gives it a lot of flavor, too. Let me ask you something: do you prefer it spicy, or with a rice wine soup?"

    "I suppose that's one way to look at it. But hot pot is an important bonding exercise! You'll see."

    "Spicy." She grins. "My grandmother put so much Sichuan pepper in hers that you could hardly taste it by the end."

    The butcher chuckles, loosening up a bit now. "Then you probably want to go heavier into beef. I'd say... 50% beef, 30% pork, 20% lamb. I tend to recommend more pork and lamb for the rice wine."

    He brings up a tray of thinly sliced wagyu. "This is what you want, I think. What are we celebrating?"

    "Being alive!" Xiren leans forward on the butcher's counter and gestures vaguely in the general direction of the afternoon's battlefield. "I'm sure you heard about the commotion. That was us. So, we thought we'd celebrate a job well done."

    The man behind the counter offers a blank stare for a moment, then looks over at the security again. It hadn't really clicked for him before you mentioned it, but it certainly does now.

    "Yeah, it's been all over the news. They say you stopped... whatever that was before it could hurt anyone. I can't be giving everything away, but I can ring you up under an employee discount. I'll admit I don't really understand why they have to put you kids in the battle like that, but I appreciate what you did."

    "Really? Thank you so much!" Xiren smiles and claps her hands together. "If you want to know the truth, I'm not entirely sure why it has to be us either. One of the techs tried to explain it to me once - something about type 1 theta wave frequencies and GnRH production. But what I can tell you is that none of us would rather be doing anything else. God works in mysterious ways, and if He's put me in a place where I can help people, I'm sure not going to question Him."

    "Yeahhhh… that's about where I got stuck too. However it works, looks like they were right to pick you. You're feeding seven, right? That part I understood. Speaking of which, where are the rest of your friends? Ah, never mind - they're probably grabbing the other ingredients as we speak. Enjoy!"

    An important fork in the road - you can try to start sowing seeds of distrust for the Vatican, risking a possible negative reception, or you can ignore the opportunity and take the good reputation as is.

    Xiren's smile fades, and she stares at the counter for a brief but calculated moment before speaking again. "Actually, that's the other reason we're here. The Elder wasn't the only thing that attacked us today. A group of armed men tried to storm the base, right before the Elder attacked. They meant to kill us. We're all fine, but, two of the other pilots were hurt badly enough they couldn't fight. If it weren't for Ryall..." She gestures to Ryall behind her. "...I'm fairly sure I wouldn't be here right now. We're all a bit shaken, and we thought this might cheer everyone up." She's careful not to come on too strong. She needs to bait him into questioning who would do such a thing of his own accord.

    "What a shame on Japan. Attacking kids? It's a disgrace." He takes a deep breath and sighs. "And you're saying they were working with that thing? That's suicide. Everyone knows what happened to Russia. Well... at least no one died. Is that all of them at least? How come it wasn't on the news?"

    "Well..." Xiren leans in a bit across the counter. "This isn't confirmed yet, so please, keep it to yourself, but... the men who attacked us were wearing Vatican insignia. Reporting something like that before we were completely sure would be irresponsible."

    The man glances at the security for a moment, then lowers his voice. "That's an act of war, or someone trying to make it look like one. I never really liked them anyway. They keep going on TV and saying we should just lay down and die for these 'angels'. I never thought they'd actually do anything, though." He straightens back up and clears his throat. "Well, I have complete faith in you all to handle anything else that comes our way, but if I were them I'd just give up with how easily you beat the last one! Got a buddy who runs a seafood shop if no one's allergic." He reaches under the register and hands you a business card. The address is about three blocks away.

    "Thank you so much!" Xiren's smile returns and she takes the card with both hands. "It's people like you that make everything worth it. We'll be sure to stop by." As they leave the shop with the security in tow, Xiren's expression takes on a certain Cheshire Cat gleam of self-satisfaction. "And here Agent Saito didn't think the trip would be worth it."
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  16. - Top - End - #106
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    Your hotpot celebration goes off without a hitch. The odd science team member fumes at the fire hazard those little hotplates create, but no fire. "No fire this time." he's quick to correct.

    Jacob doesn't bother any of you that night - possibly on his father's orders. It would appear that Ryall is the new favorite child.

    Liza doesn't see any disciplinary action for refusing to hand over the firearm. She may have done some minor services for Babylon Japan that enabled them to overlook it.

    Gabriel seems to be doing well now. Carmen, as usual, would rather sleep it off. Though this time she might have a legitimate reason to feel that way. No word from Envy. Takeo may have gone for dinner with Akari, but everyone can muscle down a little hotpot when the situation demands it.

    The night comes and goes, and the next day is upon you.

    Day two

    Spoiler: Ryall
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    You wake up to your alarm, and spot a manilla envelope that's been slid under your door. It's adorned with a Guns of Liberty logo, and addressed to you. Inside is a form and a twenty page whitepaper on a piece of experimental hardware - the AT Drive. The whitepaper is a dry read, and parts of it are redacted, but the goal of the hardware is to use it as an upgrade that provides localized AT manipulation to any weapon it's attached to. Unfortunately, it isn't a simple modular attachment, and must be customized to each individual weapon.

    That's where the form comes in. It's an in-depth questionnaire about your Virtue, fighting style, preferred weapon, and AT usage. The form is to be turned in to any member of the engineering staff, since Babylon will have to handle the requisition and outfitting.


    Spoiler: Xiren
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    Today is the big day. You receive a press release packet template, along with reports on the battle and attack. Some parts of the reports have been redacted, but it's not to hide details from you - you were there. It's meant to remind you not to release certain information to the public. More importantly, your assignment: you will, along with the other Babylon Japan pilots, be creating a 30 second commercial to improve Babylon's public relations. You've additionally been provided with the contact information of the director, who will be in charge of the camera crew.


    Spoiler: Takeo
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    Akari has a weird sense of humor, and some days, it's hard to tell if she's joking. When you wake up, there's a stack of paper slid under your door. Scrawled up top is her handwriting: "In case you wanted to know what it takes." The document itself is a rundown of the process of taking a fresh cadet and making them combat ready. You see a long list of requirements. You see a fairly strict regimen. You see a lot of physical activity. Jesus that's a lot of physical activity.


    Spoiler: Aoba
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    The medical staff all checks out so far. This investigation is going to take more than one overnight shift.

    However, the body of the real agent your infiltrator replaced has been found, by one of the kitchen staff. He was stuffed in a walk in freezer near the back so he wouldn't start to stink. They're trying to put together a picture of what happened from security camera footage, but it's hard to tell how long he's been dead due to the cold.

    Additionally, they're doing the autopsy on the infiltrator today - your assistant had it made a priority job.


    Spoiler: Liza
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    Your wakeup does not warrant a note. Instead, there's a pounding on your door. You hear Irina's voice on the other side.

    "Wake up, pilot. We need to discuss something before Xiren takes your attention for the rest of the day."
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  17. - Top - End - #107
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    Car rides always help Liza relax. The last time she rode on a regular basis, she had a warm family and a child's innocence. Somehow the intervening years - and getting carted around by Babylon - didn't break that subconscious connection.

    Under the circumstances - having just gone through two life-threatening scenarios and successfully defending an entire city, followed by casual shopping and cooking with her friends - the deep relief that washes over her is enough to nearly put her to sleep. She's barely present for the whole outing, and doesn't parse most of what's said. Judging from people's reactions, though, Xiren must have made the most of the PR opportunity. Good, good... Liza's own public image must've become that of an aloof, exotic beauty by now - not quite as charming as she'd like, but there's still a certain appeal.

    Once they're back to base, Liza gets caught up in food prep and becomes more absent-mindedly chatty, in her typically simple phrases. The others helping might feel like they're in a children's cooking class.

    She marks Envy's unexplained absence, but for now is willing to assume that they're just exhausted from the day. She's pretty much there too; once her belly and heart are full and the dishes put away, she flops into bed and goes out like a light.

    It's been a long time since she's felt so content.

    . . .


    Spoiler: Dreams Be Like That
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    Liza is visiting her family's graves. The mood is calm, without grief or regret. She's made peace with their passing and learned to carry them in her heart.

    A small grey kitten catches her eye on a nearby stump, looking at her and meowing for attention. She goes to it, crouches down, and rubs it on the head for a while, to
    its great pleasure.

    Suddenly, a tidal wave of cats surges over them - a solid mass of leaping, yowling fur and muscle. Her breath catches and does not return; they suffocate her in hot darkness. Choking, gagging, her lungs aching with no relief in sight.

    The pressure suddenly vanishes, and she's standing under a spotlight on an empty white stage in a black room, wearing a sparkling white outfit that's halfway between a wedding gown and a Disney princess. Those cats are now her audience, sitting still and silent in perfectly symmetrical rows as far as the darkness allows her to see. She's expected to... perform for them?

    No music or choreography comes to her, but somehow she feels like she knows what she's doing. Undaunted, not quite calm, but in control of her energy and the gradually swelling pressure in her chest.

    She smiles her most charming fake smile and points excitedly into the audience. The cat she selected disappears.

    She does it five more times, bouncing a little between each gesture, smile never wavering. Every time, her target disappears, eliciting zero reaction from the rest of the crowd.

    The consistency and power makes her feel more confident, but also bored and more than a little self-conscious. She starts to turn her pointing hand to her face, but at the last moment, aims at the darkness above the audience instead.

    The entire setting disappears, revealing brilliant blue sky in every direction. Liza and the countless remaining cats plummet together.


    Liza awakes with a bodily jolt, as if she had actually just fallen into her bed from a height - albeit without the injuries that would have actually incurred.
    Her earlier contentment is gone, replaced by the vague unease that she's come to consider normal. She rolls over in the darkness, checks her phone's clock - 3:34am - then clutches her pillow under her head and settles back into a much lighter slumber.


    Liza jolts awake to the pounding and shouting at her door. She's not thinking straight enough to parse the Lt.Com's Japanese, so her reflexive reaction is to treat whatever's happening as an emergency. She rolls out of bed and across the floor to fling open her door, remaining crouched and looking up at the Lt.Com. until the blood catches up with her head. Luckily her flannel pajamas are both warm and decent enough to go out in - with thanks to whoever outgrew and donated them to her favorite thrift store.

    "Mornin'! What's up?"

    Her speech is entirely too casual for addressing a superior no matter how you look at it, but perhaps forgivable for its brevity when she's the one who needs to listen more than talk in this situation.

  18. - Top - End - #108
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Liza
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    Irina stares you down for a moment. Her expression is impassive, buy she clearly isn't impressed. She moves past it without comment.

    "<You have excellent attention to detail. You have experience in the Virtue. I believe these two qualities make you a good candidate for working with engineering. You will have a lot of work on your plate if you accept, and you will still be expected to perform your regular duties. Perhaps of more difficulty, you will have to improve your Japanese. You would start tomorrow at the earliest. You have a job to do today.>"
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  19. - Top - End - #109
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    Griffon

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    It takes Liza half a moment to realize she's not being addressed in Japanese. Her language tutors have said that's a good sign; it means she's starting to think in Japanese subconsciously.

    Once her head stops spinning from her rapid acceleration, she takes a deep breath, then springs to her feet in some semblance of attention.

    "<Ma'am! I barely have a middle school education! What can I do for a cutting-edge engineering team besides make them paranoid about leaving small parts unattended? And what's happe-->" She catches herself. She knows how to say this in Japanese, and she needs to practice, as much as she dislikes it. "What will happen today?"

    It's not like she doesn't get some satisfaction from mastering a new language, and it'd be nice to not have to work so hard to comprehend what's going on around her all the time...

  20. - Top - End - #110
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Liza
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    "<Today you have public relations work. As for what you can do, you will be expected to be apprentice to one of the engineers. It is a lot of work, pilot. But no one in engineering can pilot, and I believe that to be an unacceptable oversight. Visual learners are highly prized in the field. If you can manage to keep up.>"

    Irina hands you a textbook.

    "<If you want the chance, you will have to improve your Japanese first. I know exactly how hard it is, and I won't hear excuses.>"
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  21. - Top - End - #111
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    Griffon

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    Liza makes grumbly noises, but takes the textbook. Possibly by reflex.

    "<Okaaaay! It's not like I didn't have to learn it anyway. Extra work means extra pay, right?>"

    She loses her train of thought and glances past the Lt.Com. into the hallway. She wants more snacks to go with her increased workload, but it's not like her to wheedle or beg in these kinds of situations. She'll figure out how to get what she needs without compromising herself from the start.

    "<By the wa--> Um... Where is Envy? I... <I wanna help them get ready for the PR stuff. It, uh, won't be easy on them...>"

  22. - Top - End - #112
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    Spoiler: Liza
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    Irina chuckles.

    "<We'll see. Envy has been taken for... well, their handler saw fit to withdraw them after the gala. You will need to speak to Mimi Nijima in engineering if you wish to see Envy. It will be good practice for you to jump though the hoops required to enter that area of the base.>"
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  23. - Top - End - #113
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Xiren's already awake when the PR packet is slid under her door - the early morning, before she can occupy herself with external obligations, is always the worst time of day for wrestling with demons, so she almost leaps out of bed when she sees the manila envelope appear and immediately begins to devour its contents. She carefully makes a mental note of what information's been redacted, but is somewhat concerned about the relatively muted tone of the beginning of this PR campaign - is thirty seconds really enough for the opening salvo in what will almost certainly be a war of information? The Commander must know what he's doing, though; surely there's a reason behind it.

    Immediately after she's finished reading, she calls the number she's been given for the commercial's Director, to get her marching orders for the day.

  24. - Top - End - #114
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    Although he quickly realises that the life described in it won't be for him, Takeo takes the time to read through the entire document from Akari, out of respect for her and to some degree out of curiosity - it was good to know what the rest of Babylon was capable of and had experienced, even if his life and role was very different from theirs.

    It was strange to think about, really. All this time, money and effort in making the best soldiers they could and now it fell on Takeo and his team to do the most important work. Everyone had their place, though. His was to annihilate the enemies of humanity coming from outside of their world with the strength of his Virtue and AT field, while they focused on the enemies within and protected him while he was exposed and unable to protect himself. Going through all that time and effort to get himself to a standard where he could fight like Akari was a waste compared to making himself better at dispatching Angels and furthering his understanding of the AT field. Besides, he had his theological studies, all the better to understand his enemy.

    As he gets dressed and heads out of his room, the thought about the need for protection of pilots, and how fragile they were compared to both Babylon's soldiers and the Virtues themselves, sticks in his mind. While piloting was a purpose he loved and accepted without question, and wouldn't dream of refusing, it was still evident to him that the pilots themselves were the weak link in Babylon, both in terms of numbers and resilience. Surely there must be some kind of solution...

    Mulling all this over, Takeo heads to Babylon's AT training facilities. If nothing else, he needed to keep pushing himself in that area. He can't help but feel like the more he understands this power, the more he's able to manipulate it, the more he'll understand...everything about this.
    Blake avatar by Cuthalion

  25. - Top - End - #115
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    This is a serious problem. Babylon is compromised. She's not head of security, this isn't her job... but the pilots are. And the Vatican is after them. One dead agent, at least two infiltrators... the medical staff seems fine. Which means they have an honest traitor, not just a replacement. <What's the status of the other Vatican captives?>

    From there, she takes in the status reports on the pilots. Xiren, Ryall, and Liza went out for hotpot, but brought S2 escorts, acceptable... the pilots are all getting personalized expanded training, interesting and practical. Which leaves... the other angels. <Forward me the AARs on all of yesterday's global angel attacks. Translators as well, if necessary. The tactics they've shown will be invaluable for future battles.>
    Avatar by SeraphicMayin

  26. - Top - End - #116
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Xiren
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    Notably redacted in the reports is how the elder spoke into your mind. It would seem they want to keep it looking like mere combat.

    When you place the call, a man's voice answers, and he's clearly excited. The sing song tone suggests he's been awake quite long enough to be happy about the day.

    "Good morning, sunshine! I'm your lackey for the day, Hashi Ebizo. And you're the great Xiren Hua, she whose blade stands between Japan and oblivion. Now, I'm in charge of the crew, but this is your show. I make sure the 'sins' of Japan get a thirty second slot, but it's up to you to make it primetime. You've got your work cut out for you. Whoever decided to call a teenager 'lust' needs to be fired out of a cannon and into the sun. So round up your friends, feed them their lines, and let's wrinkle the pope's pointy hat."


    Spoiler: Takeo
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    It doesn't take long to get you suited up and placed in the simulation. It never felt quite the same as actually synching, but you can't put your finger on why. But with the data obtained from your last battle, they've improved it. It's still not your Virtue, though. It's something else entirely.

    You're informed going in that you won't have time for a full day's training today - you have PR work scheduled. The team in charge of maintaining the simulation doesn't seem to know much except for the fact that you'll be called.


    Spoiler: Aoba
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    You're informed that the initial captures have already been interrogated by Kazuma, and the commandos have woken up. They're being transferred to interrogation today.

    Russia fought an Angel with fifteen burning appendages. They lured it to a decoy city, where it was able to cause what it thought was massive collateral damage, while the Virtues picked it apart from a distance. It had an aura of flame as well. The melee fighters could not approach without being damaged, so they pulled back and let it focus on empty buildings.

    The Netherlands fought a glob of differently sized eyes. The pilots were uneasy afterward, likely due to its disturbing appearance, but largely unharmed. It used concentrated beam attacks, which appeared highly destructive, but it had little in the way of self defense, and fell quickly.

    Australia and Saudi Arabia fought Angels that exploded violently upon their destruction, causing huge collateral. In fact, this is how most of the damage was done - they hardly lasted long enough in combat to threaten the Sins, or even provide useful data.

    The US tells a very different story. While it was reported as a swan song attack by the Angel that caused the devastation and nearly killed two pilots, Babylon knows the truth. They called in an orbital bombardment when it became clear the Virtues weren't getting through its Absolute Defense. Attacks were ignored entirely, and the battle was a losing one. The Virtues were able to destroy it only after this.
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  27. - Top - End - #117
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    So. Save for the attack on Japan, these were all attacks focused around causing as much collateral damage as possible. The Elder seemed to have greater focus in its attack. Coupled with the Vatican attack beforehand... there's definitely something unique happening here. But if I were in a position to be informed, I would be, they wouldn't deny me information unnecessarily. Which means... despite America likely needing reinforcements, we can't spare anything. Though I imagine that's what the other installations will say... This is complex. But the Russians' tactic was by far the most effective. With the size of Japan, America's is untenable... But this makes it clear. Keeping the Angels out of civilian centers is vital.

    She pauses. There's one other consideration. The pilots weren't physically injured in the fight, but... Xiren. She sends a message to the director of medical. <Arrange for therapy and psychiatric care for the pilots, starting with Hua Xiren. Highest level of confidentiality necessary.>
    Avatar by SeraphicMayin

  28. - Top - End - #118
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Aoba
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    Soon after giving the order to your assistant, Director Muromi Hitta contacts you personally. She's quite likely had quite a lot of paperwork from the gala attack, which probably explains how short she's being with you now.

    "Director Mashimo. Your office has been running a lot of high priority requests to mine in the last 24 hours. You do realize that if everything is high priority, nothing is, yes?" You hear a sigh and what sounds like her glasses being set on the table. "Though I suppose the pilots are, in fact, the highest priority. We do have the human resources for this, but I need to know what prompted the request. Confidentiality is a given for the field, but I assume, coming from you, that may have meant something else entirely. Would you like to visit me in my office, or switch to a secure line before answering that?"
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  29. - Top - End - #119
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    Planetar

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    As soon as Ryall wakes up at 4:30 AM for her morning run, she notices the envelope that has been shoved under her door. Picking it up, she quickly realizes this is the ""special requisition form" that Jacob's father mentioned to her. Opening it and thumbing through the whitepaper, she realizes what the AT Drive is about. Huh, that's neat. It's a shame that I don't really use my AT field, though. Takeo would probably love this, he's the one with the AT manip, but you know what they say. Never look a gift horse in the mouth

    Spoiler: FORM
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    • VIRTUE NAME: Humilitas
    • VIRTUE DESIGNATION: Assault
    • GENETIC QUIRKS: Virtue shows higher performance, particularly in defense-related areas.
    • FIGHTING STYLE: Knife-fighting w/shield, using the knife to impale vulnerable spots and hamper Angels. Currently experimenting with dual-wielding knives, though technique is as of yet not refined enough to bring to Angel battles.
    • PREFERRED WEAPON: Progressive Knife.
    • AT USAGE: Currently sparse; limited to the usage of the Virtue's Basic Field and the occasional Neutralize.



    After filling in the form, Ryall decides to go on a run first before delivering the package back to engineering. They're probably still all asleep right now, and just walking in at four in the morning would be weird. After finishing up her run and cleaning herself up, she went straight towards the engineering division, package in tow.

  30. - Top - End - #120
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Spoiler: Ryall
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    When you hand the engineer the forms, he flips through them briefly until he reaches the section his department needs to fill out. He's a mumble reader, faintly reading a little of it to himself with furrowed brow. He raises his eyebrows and nods, then looks back up at you.

    "Great! Can't wait to see how this works! I'll run it red in the AOFINIT."

    He turns to leave, then stops abruptly, nearly stumbling over his own feet. Without turning back around, he adds, "That probably didn't mean anything to you if you're not familiar with NetView DSIPARM data set. That... probably didn't mean anything to you either. High priority! I really want to see this function in a closed environment. Oh, and you should get to see how it handles before taking it into live combat. Of course."

    He scurries off excitedly. You probably just made this guy's day.


    Spoiler: Mimi
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    Your phone alerts you to a priority 1 process put in by a member of your team. Eisuke Iida is easily excitable, but he knows better than to enter a top level priority without a damn good reason. The details of the report absolve him of a write up. Guns of Liberty's AT Drive prototype is coming to Babylon Japan, and needs to be outfitted for Humilitas's Progressive Knife. The report itself mentions wanting to get it in out of combat Virtue testing, but doesn't mention independent lab testing. You may or may not wish to rectify that.
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